“ I want to be thoroughly used up when I die. Life is no brief candle for me. It is a sort of splendid torch which I have got hold of for a moment, and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it on to future generations. ”
– George Bernard Shaw
Consider yourself duly warned – this month’s homage will prove to be anything but impartial. Admittedly, I’m a sucker for Leos – the exuberant children of the summer born when the solar rays shine longest and brightest are my very own illustrious walking kryptonite. So sensitive am I to their radiance that I can pretty much spot them within minutes in their presence, for I melt like the wings of Icarus. But It seems hardly fair – while the other signs have a ruling planet, Leo is not ruled by a massive rotating rock. Nay, their ruler is the Sun, that celestial ball of life giving energy to which all other planets encircle. Is it any wonder Leos glow in an unparalleled aura all their own.
Of all the signs it seems I hear the most irritation aimed at Leos. I guess I can understand why, as they’re not exactly for the faint of heart. The second of the fire signs, they carry the element of vitality and enthusiasm now with a firm constancy. Unlike the comet-like energy of the rookie Aries, Leo is the fixed fire sign that gives them a slow, steady burn. These eternal torchbearers are dramatic and grand, self-assured to the point of an almost self-proclaimed omnipotence. They dominate a room with the slightest of effort; their presence enough to have a palpable energy. Effortlessly charismatic and confident to a fault, they naturally find themselves in the spotlight. Or should I say the spotlight finds them, because it will. We are but moths to their flame. They hold themselves in such esteem because they honor and value themselves, and in turn, extend the same respect to others, though it must be earned. And in a setting of mutual admiration and respect, their warmth radiates outward, extended through the most generous acts and a fierce, undying loyalty. Whereas with Cancer we kindled the warmth of human emotions, Leo ignites it into full blown passion. Anyone who has been the object of Leonine desire (oh, you enviable prey) will attest to their ardent pursuit. One of the things I love most about Leos is their appreciation for elegance, never more apparent than in the art of courting. That seemingly archaic word has been all but forgotten in a time when ‘lovers’ text their abbreviated hookup propositions – how positively gauche. Leos savor the budding promise of relationship; their ardent gestures expressive of how they value their adored and the delicious gallantry involved in the unfolding romance. This level of passion flows everywhere in their lives, giving them not only a mesmerizing drive, but the ability to galvanize the masses around them to accomplish greatness.
People attribute success to the Leo which is at times fitting, but it also could be they’re magical magnets of vision with tremendous commitment to succeed and the ability to inspire others to excellence. That fire fuels their persistence, seemingly impervious to opposition or criticism. Women barely had the right to vote when Amelia Earhart (July 24th) followed her passion for aviation in her attempt to circumnavigate the globe in 1937. Julia Child (August 15th) blazed a culinary trail to be a famous chef during a time when women were expected to be subservient housewives. And thankfully Dustin Hoffman (August 8th) ignored all those people who said he was too short and unattractive to be a movie star. They eschewed their perspective naysayers and followed their bliss. Where others might say they can’t, to Leos such words are mere flies to swat away while they beam, “Watch me.” After all, they do love an audience. But don’t be fooled. Theirs isn’t the kind of show involving smoke and mirrors. They’re genuine and direct, bold in sincerity and unrelenting in self-revelation. They carry lofty aspirations with the firmest of intentions to meet them, setting the bar even higher to achieve their personal apex.
August 15, 1769
Long before there was a Madonna or a Cher, there lived the original single-named phenom simply known not only as Napoleon but Napoleon the Great. A French military and political leader who rose to power toward the end of the French Revolution, his brilliant military leadership led France to European domination in the aptly named Napoleonic Wars. So great were his strategies, that his campaigns are studied to this day at military academies. Despite the bloodshed of the French Revolution to overthrow the French monarchy, Napoleon named himself Emperor in 1804. He also crowned himself King of Italy in 1805, because sometimes one monarchy just won’t do. He instituted some surprising lasting reforms, including establishing higher education, a tax code, road and sewer systems, establishing the Banque de France, and aided in the adoption of the metric system. Despite his many conquests, he felt his most lasting achievement would be through a set of civil laws referred to as (what else) the Napoleonic Code, which fundamentally changed the nature of civil legal system to establish clearly written laws (both criminal and commerce) which also enacted rules of due process. As leader of France, he also emancipated Jews, expanding their rights to property, worship and career. Despite strong anti-Semitic reactions, he stated, “I will never accept any proposals that will obligate the Jewish people to leave France, because to me the Jews are the same as any other citizen in our country. It takes weakness to chase them out of the country, but it takes strength to assimilate them.” Some may say tyrant, but count on a Leo for decisive leadership and righteous actions.
July 30, 1863
Closer to home, a local boy named Henry Ford built a different kind of empire. As an engineer, he was involved in the development the first gasoline propelled vehicle. In 1903 he established the Ford Motor Company to produce racing cars, yet had far greater vision. In five short years the Model T rolled off the assembly line – changing the paradigm of the automobile from a very expensive, heavy, hand-built toy for rich people into a lightweight, reliable, affordable, mass-produced mode of transportation for working-class people. He coined the term “Fordism”, which represented mass production of inexpensive goods coupled with high wages for worker. (In case you haven’t noticed, Leos love to name things after themselves.) He became one of the wealthiest and most famous men in the world, yet he labored for the greater good; the aspiration of peace through consumerism. He believed in fair wages, the highest of quality product, quoted as saying, “The highest use of capital is not to make more money, but to make money do more for the betterment of life.” Oh sweet American prince of capitalist ideals, if only today’s tycoons would head your philosophy.
August 6, 1911
Really, all I have to say is Lucy, and everyone will know who I mean. Or should I say Luuuuuucceeeee! (Sorry, you’ll have to imagine the Cuban accent.) Lucille Ball started out as a contract player in the studio system, nicknamed “Queen of the Bs” (as in B movies). But it was in television that she assumed her true throne of queen of the comedy sit-com in the unforgettable “I Love Lucy”, and oh how we did. The smash hit dominated the weekly television ratings for almost its entire run of 180 episodes. She went on to star in a total of five sit-coms, all of which contained her name in the title. Though audiences will remember her character as a daffy and lovable redhead, in actuality she was quite savvy, known for her astonishingly sharp business sense and absolute involvement in all executive and creative decisions. In 1962 she became the first woman to run a major television studio with Desilu Productions. And yet having built a dynasty as America’s most influential comedienne, she was surprisingly self-deprecating of her talent, saying, “I’m not funny. What I am is brave.” It’s been many years since her death and yet her reign continues through broadcasts of her comic genius in countries all over the world every single day.
I understand this must seem like an indulgent mass love letter to Leos, but then again, you were warned. If you have issue with Leos, that’s fine. I understand and fully respect your right to vent. Feel free to send your comments to email@example.com, for I am comfortably nestled in the lion’s den. It’s not because I fear they’re our last holdout of elegance at a time when I see baseball caps and flip flops worn to fine restaurants without even a raised eyebrow. It’s not because they radiate a confidence that makes their horizon stretch like a sea of potentiality. It’s simply that they have found a love and acceptance within to courageously exist in all their glory. They believe they are enough, simply because they are, and in doing so give us all the freedom to do the same. For me, they embody the quote by Marianne Williamson when she said,
“We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that others won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine as children do. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.”
We live in an age when creativity is hardly heralded as much critiqued. Before investing in films, books, plays, etc, we look to the critics to espouse their value, assessing if they’re even worth our time and money. And to these evaluations we listen, regardless of the creative lifeblood poured into the precious work. The arts have all but been abandoned in an educational system that has budgeted them as ‘superfluous’. And artists are measured by their commercial success above all, or worse, suffer from comparison and limiting expectations. We live in a country that claims to have no royalty, yet we have e a desperate need to worship our celebrities, our sports icons, and the like; so much so that we’ll elevate even the tackiest of reality ‘stars’, touting their bouffant hairdos and ripped abs, masking no discernible talents or abilities whatsoever. The truth is we all want to be seen, to be valued, to shine. Therefore, if we can’t own it in ourselves we are compelled to project it onto others, even the grossly unworthy. But not the mighty lions. They live without permission or excuses, or attempting to emulate anyone else. Their very being, as everything they do, is a brilliant artistic creation. So when the Leos are shining full throttle, please ask yourself why you wish they would to take it down a notch (or seven). Are they too bright or are you not shining nearly enough? They are our heroic liberators, rising up against everything that tells us we’re not enough, that we have to achieve greatness before we dare claim any merit. Leos say it’s a lie, because the truth is we are enough – all of us. We don’t have to be anything because we already are. They celebrate their lives and live gloriously and symphonically out loud. They courageously beckon us to join them, to find the light rooted deep in the core of all of us, our own magnificent essence. Look to your sun, where lies your truest self, the energy that makes you the most vibrant and alive. Blow on that flame, ignite its blaze and bask in your own glowing torch. And when you live in that place, just wait and see what you will be able to do. You will astound yourself. Like the beacon of a distant lighthouse towering above the ocean, they beam out, luring us home to our most radiant selves. And to them I say, shine on. Burn brightly, nay burn luminously you regal, stunning creatures. I’ll bring my shades.